The Chicago Bulls (27-25) find themselves in a much different position than the last time they visited the Cleveland Cavaliers (38-14) on January 23 and left Quicken Loans Arena with a 96-83 upset victory as 10.5-point road underdogs.
Since earning that key win, the Bulls have gone 2-7 straight up and against the spread and lost leading scorer Jimmy Butler to a knee injury. Trade rumors have also been circulating around Chicago, with the team reportedly shopping big men Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson, while Nikola Mirotic (appendix) and Joakim Noah (shoulder) remain out.
The Cavaliers are 8-2 SU and 5-5 ATS since losing Tyronn Lue’s head coaching debut against the Bulls, but they have been dealing with injuries to power forward Kevin Love (shoulder) and reserve point guard Matthew Dellavedova (hamstring).
Love and Dellavedova both practiced fully on Wednesday, though, and the Cavs expect them to play. Cleveland is also seeking more frontcourt help before the trade deadline.
Offensively, the Cavs have been clicking lately in Lue’s new system, averaging 111 points on 48.8 percent shooting in their last 10 games. Meanwhile, Chicago has struggled defensively in dropping six of seven, giving up nearly 111 per game.
Butler has been the team’s top defender and was mainly responsible for guarding Cleveland’s LeBron James in the last meeting. James went 11-of-27 from the field (0-of-5 from three-point range) and finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.
The Bulls have won each of the two meetings so far this season after dropping seven of the previous 10 in the series, including four of six in their second-round playoff matchup back in May.
However, the Cavs have covered the spread in just three of the last 10 games between the teams, according to the Odds Shark NBA Database, with the under cashing in for four of the previous five. The under has also cashed in for the past two for Chicago overall, although the over is 6-2 in Cleveland’s last eight.